Recently, my colleague on the front page here at Blogging The Boys, Tom Ryle and I were discussing who we expected to be the surprise cut out of this year's training camp and I suggested Bruce Carter. Just a few months removed from being considered, at least by many Dallas Cowboys fans, as the best thing since sliced bread, or at least Sean Lee, Carter has suddenly become a weak link in the linebacking corps for the team. His struggles have been well documented since the team moved to the 4-3 defense that was supposed to be tailor made for him. Now he could find himself slated for a rendezvous with the Turk.
Head Coach Jason Garrett has stated that Dallas will put its best three on the field, and right now that appears to be a combination of Kyle Wilber at the SAM, Rolando McClain at MILE, and Justin Durant at WILL. This leaves Carter, who plays the WILL slot, as the odd man out. It is conceivable that Carter could back up both his own position as well as the middle linebacker, but the team could also choose to use rookie Anthony Hichens as the primary backup for both slots. If they choose to go that route, it is possible that the team might part ways with Carter and bring in a veteran journeyman the way they did recently with Ernie Sims. Sims was the player who started twice for Carter last year.
One thing that could work out in Carter's favor and earn him one more opportunity to prove to the Cowboys that he can be the player they expected him to be is the injury to second year linebacker DeVonte Holloman's neck. There is speculation that Dallas might have to fill a void created by the possible season (and perhaps career) ending injury that Holloman suffered against the Baltimore Ravens. If the injury is as severe as it appears to be, that could be the opening that saves Carter's job.
Based on what is (and isn't) being said, Bruce Carter clearly is not the commodity that he was just over a year ago. Team owner Jerry Jones has openly stated that he thinks linebacker could be a stronger position than many think it will be. Jones has praised the efforts of several Dallas linebackers in recent days.
"The way Durant’s playing, the way [strongside linebacker Kyle] Wilber is playing — Wilber could be one of the more pleasant surprises because of the level he’s playing at — our linebackers have a chance to be better than we expect." - Jerry Jones
One name that has been conspicuously absent is Bruce Carter. Could this be the writing on the wall for the former second-round draft pick? The former North Carolina Tarheel does not see it that way. He was asked directly if the recent moves were a demotion for him.
"No, I don’t think so," Carter said when asked whether the team was trying to demote him. "I just think we need depth. Especially Ro, he needs to get his reps at Mike. … So they’re just trying, I guess, to see what the rotations are going to be. I don’t know." - Bruce Carter
Head coach Jason Garret has stated that he feels that the most natural position for Justin Durant is at the WILL, and Kyle Wilber seems to have entrenched himself as the SAM. That leaves one open slot, and it is obvious that the Dallas staff would like nothing better than for Rolando McClain to claim the MIKE. Where does that leave Carter? In my opinion it leaves him as the odd man out.
What do you think? Is Bruce Carter going to be the unexpected cut of training camp this season?